I remember sitting on the couch after all three of our kids had gone to bed, talking to my husband about whether or not to try for a fourth baby. Although my heart was set on it, we still went through the whole list of pros and cons to determine whether or not this was the right decision for our family.
I clearly remember some of our biggest questions: Do we have enough space in our house for all of these people? Even once they are giant teens? Do I have enough patience to handle the dynamics of a four-child family? And most importantly, will we be able to give them all the love and attention they need?
Ultimately, we answered yes to all of these questions, while mostly having a “what’s one more” kind of attitude about it. Now we have been a family of six for almost three years, and while I wouldn’t change a thing, I laugh looking back on our list of questions, and rational.
Because (shocker!) three kids, is not the same as four. In fact, it feels like exponentially more. And there are a few very important factors that we definitely overlooked in our decision.
First is the cost. And — DUH! I know, it’s insane that I wasn’t thinking of this but honestly, I was a naive idiot. Because while babies and toddlers cost a decent amount of money, elementary-aged boys the size of late-middle schoolers really cost a sh*tload. Our weekly grocery bill alone is enough to rival a mortgage. Then there are four birthdays, four Halloween costumes, four Christmas stockings, four full heads of baby teeth to lose (boy, did I mess that one up)... the list goes on. All of which I am very privileged to be able to afford at all, mostly because I hustle a few part-time jobs from home to avoid what would be an astronomical childcare bill.
I wouldn’t be able to do it otherwise! Because couple the basic costs with the costs of all the gear, clothes, and gadgets that they are always asking for and I need to refinance my house. Long gone are the days of my own personal seasonal shopping sprees. Now I wander around in last season's outfits, spending all my money on commercial-sized buckets of Goldfish, copious amounts of over-priced fruit, and lots of clothing items that either wear out or get outgrown instantly.
And then there is the mess. Both literally and figuratively, but mostly literally. It’s messy AF having four kids. At this stage, with their ages ranging from two to ten, I would consider myself one part entertainer, one part chef, and two parts maid. So much of my time is spent washing dishes and clothes, decluttering messes, sweeping floors, and wiping down surfaces. I could have a PhD in cleaning and still would not be prepared for what I am dealing with. Three hours post shower and my kids are tracking mud on the carpets with inches of dirt wedged under every fingernail. They leave no snack package closed, no drawer shut, and no bed made. No matter what they’re doing, they leave a wake of crumbs, clothes, and dirt behind. And if you are neurotic like me, it’s an adjustment.
And oh my God — the noise. To be fair, I have pretty loud, expressive kids. But dear sweet Jesus my dinner table reaches the same decibel level of some heavy metal concerts, I am sure of it. Living with four kids means permanent overstimulation. They yell over one another to be heard and they yell at one another to make a point. Even when they’re playing nicely it’s earsplitting, because noise multiplied by four is, well, loud.
But with all that comes some unexpected awesomeness too. Like the amount of space we take up wherever we go. Sounds weird, but no matter where we end up, when we are all together, I’m surrounded by a group of people who love me. The dinner table laugh track when I hit on a well-timed joke makes me feel like I am headlining a New York comedy club, and all family celebrations feel like a big, crazy adventure, even when it’s just me and my home team.
It’s never boring, and often chaotic. It’s expensive, messy, and loud, but God, it’s so great, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.